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Daily Reports from the Hunger Strike - Check out the reports below for a 
day-by-day log of events as the historic hunger strike at Taco Bell 
headquarters unfolds...

Day 10: Religious leaders intervene, hunger strikers break fast! Click here to read a great wrap-up article from the Naples Daily News "Farmworker protest passed on to religious groups" -- And... check out the VIDEO from the final day, including great
footage of the locked-door reception provided a delegation of religious leaders and CIW members by Taco Bell!

As Day 10 broke in front of Taco Bell headquarters, everything seemed normal (only sunnier...), just another day at the hunger strike site,...

... another chapter in the David and Goliath story of the Taco Bell boycott,...

... another battle in the fight for fair food bringing together consumers...

... and farmworkers from Immokalee, where Taco Bell buys its tomatoes while turning a blind eye to the human rights abuses that are the daily reality of workers in Florida's fields.

But Day 10 was to be different. On this day, the hunger strikers were to end their protest.

Heeding the calls of religious leaders to end their fast -- with the promise that their communities would join the workers in their struggle -- the strikers decided to break their fast by breaking bread with religious leaders in an Ash Wednesday ceremony outside Taco Bell HQ.

In a letter to the strikers, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles wrote: "Your current hunger strike has been a clear sign of your commitment and resolve to seek a peaceful settlement to this current stalemate. You are to be commended for your commitment and dedication in leading this hunger strike. It has been a source of strength for other workers around the country who struggle to provide a decent existence for their families..."

The religious leaders -- from Cardinal Mahony to the National Council of Churches, representing 50 million people across the country -- were concerned about the hunger strikers' health following the hospitalization of three strikers during the prolonged fast.

In his letter, Cardinal Mahony continued: "As the Lenten season approaches and out of concern for your health, I urge you to conclude this fast. In turn, I encourage Catholics to stand with you by fasting during Lent as a sign of solidarity with you in prayer that you soon see a successful conclusion to this campaign. As a sign of good will, I encourage the leadership of Taco Bell to meet with you in the coming days to seek a fair and peaceful solution to this dispute."

And so, the Ash Wednesday service that was to be a celebration of the hunger strike became a formal ceremony marking the end of the fast and the beginning of a new phase of the boycott.

Of course, the Cuauhtemoc Aztec Dancers -- whose faithful presence and support throughout the hunger strike raised the strikers' spirits through many a cold, rainy night -- were on hand to open the ceremony and to sanctify the site.

But today, they would be joined by an ecumenical gathering of pastors -- from the Presbyterian Church USA (Noelle Damico, left, an indispensable ally throughout the 10-day fast, and Ricardo Moreno, right, of Los Angeles Emmanuel Presbyterian Church), the United Chuch of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Catholic Church -- brought together to honor the strikers and pledge their support in the future.

Also on hand, of course, were union leaders from the UFCW and SEIU, both of whom were key allies as well throughout the hunger strike.

The ceremony attracted the LA and national press and supporters from throughout Southern California.

Francisca Cortez (shown here) and Jeremias Lopez (not in picture) of the CIW, spoke on behalf of the hunger strikers.

But the heart of the ceremony was undoubtedly the breaking of the bread -- a symbolic act that at once ended the strikers' fast and forged the bonds of community between the workers and the religious leaders joining them in their fight.

And though the bread was eagerly awaited, and shared, by the hunger strikers (and was, by many of the strikers' accounts, the most delicious food they can remember ever tasting...)...

... it was also a deeply emotional moment for the strikers. The emotion was born of many different aspects of the moment -- the taste, feel, and smell of food again... the sense of a very definite end to what will certainly be an unforgettable experience in all the strikers' lives... the warmth of solidarity and heartfelt concern from allies drawn by the hunger strike to step into the fight and to stand with us in the struggle.

The power of all those things coming together in one moment overwhelmed even the most battle-worn of the strikers.

Following the breaking of the bread, a delegation of strikers and religious leaders, accompanied by the press, approached Taco Bell headquarters. Their objective was simple and peaceful -- to hand copies of the religious leaders' letters, along with 2000 cards signed by workers in Immokalee supporting the boycott -- to a representative of Taco Bell. [The writing along the top of the left-hand side of the wall, barely discernable in this photo, reads "Leadership Way," by the way...]

But, to no one's surprise, Taco Bell security personnel, upon seeing the delegation on its way to the front doors, scrambled to lock the doors and refused the workers and religious leaders entry. As a result, the delegation was obliged to pass its message underneath the locked doors, leaving their letters and cards in a pile on the floor in the atrium of Taco Bell's heaquarters.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to know where their cards and letters will end up.

Here's one more shot of the scene, just to make sure that Taco Bell's response to the workers and religious leaders is clear... Note the classic security stance of the man on the left -- hands crossed and folded in front of the body, feet spread shoulder wide, chin out... the very embodiment of Taco Bell's response to the CIW's call for fair food all along, and now their response to religious leaders, as well.

Before leaving, the delegation reflected on their reception and prayed together that Taco Bell would overcome its fear and join them in a solution to the boycott.

And so, the CIW left Taco Bell headquarters with new allies in the fight against Taco Bell, new allies with new determination and commitment to see the campaign through, having now felt the sting of Taco Bell's disdain themselves, the same disdain that Immokalee workers have been shown for nearly two years.

The press on hand for the incident, including this reporter from the Los Angeles Times, surely were taken aback at Taco Bell's inhospitable response.

To close the service, Father Ramon of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Ana performed the imposition of ashes for the strikers and others in the gathering...

... and Lucas Benitez of the CIW added closing words of thanks and reflection on behalf of the strikers. "Through non-violent action, Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement were able to force the American public to face the reality and essential evil of racism, making figures like Bull Connor the face of racism and the focus of the need for change. Today, with this humble action, we have focused public attention on Taco Bell and on its disregard for the inhumane conditions in its supply chain. Today, Taco Bell is the face of corporate indifference towards the exploitation of workers whose undervalued labor is the very foundation of their wealth."

And finally, after 10 long days, the strikers broke their fast in earnest, with a fine spread of soup, rice, beans, tortillas, horchata, and fruit provided by families of students from Santa Ana, student members of MEChA Santa Ana College that like so many MEChA members throughout California during this action gave their hearts and souls to the workers from Immokalee.

And finally, before we go, a couple of more photos to share, photos that capture the essence of this hunger strike:

Above, a moment captured of the long, cold, wet, hungry days that challenged the strikers' spirits, but, in the end, strengthened their resolve.

And here, the warm, true building of human community, a human community forged of sacrifice and shared struggle.

For 10 days, the workers' community constructed outside Taco Bell headquarters posed a daily challenge to the cold, status-driven, striving individualism that is the lifeblood of corporations like Taco Bell. For ten days, Taco Bell executives stepped over farmworkers fasting on their doorstep on their way to work without so much as a second thought. But, ultimately, second thoughts will come, and when they do, community will prevail over corporate greed.

Day 8 Hunger Strikers say "¡No Nos Moveran!" (We will not be moved!)

Plus, check out this radio interview from Labor Radio with striker Gerardo Reyes... 
(the interview is in Real Audio format, and the story begins about 1/2 way into the report)

The hunger strikers entered the second week of their fast, and despite the return of the cold...

... and the growing fatigue of the prolonged strike...

... the strikers' determination and confidence remained strong.

Visitors continued to join fasters at the site outside Taco Bell headquarters...

... including this adorable little visitor, the daughter of one of the Aztec dancers who have been steady allies since the beginning of the strike.

And as the day stretched on, the hunger strikers followed coverage of the campaign and prepared for another cold night on the pavement.

Day 5 - Over a thousand throng to hunger strike site at Taco Bell headquarters in
solidarity with fasters!

In a powerful show of support for the hunger strikers' cause, more than a thousand people crowded into the hunger strike site on a Friday afternoon, and had a day they wouldn't soon forget. Here, JG & Havikenhayes played the song they dedicated to the hunger strikers -- "Hunger Days" -- which shook Taco Bell headquarters with its chorus of "Yo no quiero Taco Bell, no quiero Taco Bell"!

The flood of support overwhelmed the hunger strikers, who gathered at the front of the stage to show their appreciation to the crowd. It was a day filled with emotion for the strikers, who had endured not only 5 days of fasting but days of cold, rainy weather and seemingly endless harassment by the Irvine police.

But as the hunger strikers started their day they were greeted by deep blue skies -- a beautiful day for the dramatic confrontation of community versus corporations that was to come (and a pretty good indication of where the powers that be
stand on that conflict...).


The morning was filled with protesters preparing some incredible art, using every material available -- including their own bodies -- to convey their message.

As the rally approached, people came streaming into the hunger strike site, some from the LA area, some from Northern California, and others from as far as Portland, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona!


The procession of allies continued to grow over the final hour before the rally was to begin...


... with the protest art arriving at the scene -- like this march of puppets prepared by the folks at Art and Revolution -- the art seemed to grow right along with the crowd.

By the time the rally started, the hunger strike site had been converted into a sea of posters, puppets, and colorful flags -- the banners of a community gathering its strength and spirit to raise its voice for hope and against a world ruled by unchecked corporate power.

The hunger strikers were called to the front of the stage, recognized for their sacrifice and and their courage in taking their fight from one of the country's poorest communities right to the doorstep of one of the country's most powerful industries.

After which, some of the most energetic strikers led the crowd in cheers for "Justicia".

And powerful, silent theater -- inspired by the Brazilian peasant movement's traditional "mistica" form of popular theater -- told the story of Mexican and Guatemalan peasants uprooted from their communities by poverty, forced into a desperate migration to Florida's tomato fields.

The theater drew the clear connection between farmworker poverty and fast-food profits, as consumers brought Taco Bell executives piles of money while the workers picked bucket after bucket of tomatoes. But the theater ended when the workers and consumers united in a hunger strike and forced the Taco Bell executives to the table. As the theater came to a close, workers and allies distributed cups of water to the crowd in a symbolic joining with the hunger strikers.

Some great speakers filled the program, including Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation," who told the crowd, "We are not here today to bring an end to Taco Bell, but to bring an end to Taco Bell's exploitation of workers. As long as Taco Bell refuses to pay one penny more so that its tomato pickers can earn a decent wage, we as consumers must refuse to pay Taco Bell a single penny more."

The author had a few fans of his own who made it to the rally, getting autographs for their copies of "Fast Food Nation" backstage before Eric headed out (with a hunger striker t-shirt on his shoulder).

And speaking of speakers, Lucas Benitez of the CIW -- following five days drinking only water -- gave an incredibly moving speech on behalf of all the hunger strikers. Invoking the spirits of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez, Lucas' speech presented the hunger strike as a non-violent force of change tied to the history of the past century's most powerful social movements- an irresistible force destined to, sooner rather than later, bring human rights to the fields of Florida and the fast-food industry that has spread across the globe.


A full roster of speakers continued, highlighted by people like Tanis Ybarra of the United Farm Workers (above), Anuradha Mittal of Food First...


And Stephen Bartlett and Mike Moon, family farmers and representatives of Agricultural Missions and Family Farm Defenders respectively, who fasted all week with the farmworkers and presented a statement of support from the Family Farm Coalition.

The whole program wouldn't have been possible, though, without our incredible, powerful, rocking MC's -- Jaribu Hill, of the Mississippi Workers Center, and Pedro, a student ally from Cal Poly Pomona. There aren't words to describe the job they did all day, only thanks.

Between speakers, Havikenhayes kept the momentum building with some fine work on the turntables.

And as good as the speakers were, the music may have even been better. A local group from Santa Ana from the Centro Cultural de Mexico had people dancing...

while LA favorite Slowrider brought the crowd pressing to the stage with their politically-charged set.

Between the bands and Havikandhayes' DJ'ing, the crowd never stopped moving.

And the crowd spanned the spectrum from young...

... like these two animated supporters, and the young man on the left who fasted all day in solidarity with the hunger strikers!....

to the older folks in the crowd...

who filled vans and traveled to side with the hunger strikers against Taco Bell, and took some time to share the wisdom of their years with younger activists.

But in the end, it was the hunger strikers' day, a day to celebrate their remarkable courage, dedication, and commitment to the cause for long-overdue justice in this country's fields...

justice that, if this day was any indication, will not be delayed much longer.

Click here to see more pictures from this amazing day.

Day 4 - The momentum builds on the eve of the big rally!


Day 3- 4: Public support swells as the hunger strikers hit the airwaves...
plus, check out this great video of the Cuatehmoc Aztec Dancers!

The hunger strikers entered their fourth day of fasting Thursday, bouyed by a growing wave of community support.

Max Perez of the CIW talks here at KUCI radio in Irvine, one of many radio interviews by hunger strikers throughout the day, including a great piece on Free Speech Radio News on Pacifica Radio, another on KPFK in Los Angeles, and a 45 minute interview on Wednesday night on the nationally syndicated"Cucuy de la Tarde" show with Lucas Benitez of the CIW, which reaches tens of millions of listeners from LA to Miami. Cucuy himself was so moved by the hunger strikers' cause that he promised to join the Friday rally outside of Taco Bell headquarters!

Meanwhile, back at the hunger strike site, street support for the strikers also swelled over the course of the day...

... while the strikers passed the hours trying to stay warm and playing dominoes -- a farmer/famrworker match here, where the farmer came out on top (as always...).

And by Wednesday night, the action outside Taco Bell's offices was really moving...

... with a visit by the Cuatehmoc Aztec Dancers, in a performance you can catch by clicking here to see this quicktime video!

Day 2-3: The Hunger Strike strike continues..

Day two of the Hunger Strike started with new signs and old rain...

Including the main sign declaring the Hunger Strike's purpose to traffic passsing by Taco Bell corporate headquarters: "Taco Bell Profits from Farmworker Poverty"

The cold rain made for a hard day...

but the hunger striker spirits remained high.

Day two gave way to day three...

and the rain kept coming

By evening, the weather had cleared...

Just in time for a candlelight vigil in support of the strikers -- an omen for clear days ahead and the gathering strength of the hunger strike.

Hunger strike -- Day 1:
See the video!


After three long days on the road, the hunger strikers' caravan made it to Irvine and Taco Bell headquarters -- impressive as always in its opulence, opulence made possible by poverty wages and cheap commodity prices...

A point that the hunger strikers quickly set about making to the people of Irvine who drove by the strikers' encampment.

Monday morning 100 fasters and supporters began one of the largest hunger strikes in US history, 24 hours a day, outside the global headquarters of Taco Bell, the fast-food giant.   

And the hunger strikers got some great news, by the way, to start the day, as students at Middle Tennessee State University officially removed Taco Bell from their campus, making it the 14th school to "Boot the Bell!"


First things first, though...as the hunger strikers got a thorough check-up from medical personnel in solidarity with the action...

Following the check-ups, the day really got started with a rousing educational session -- thanks to friends at United for a Fair Economy -- using tomatoes to represent wealth and examining how the concentration of wealth in the US has become the most lopsided of all western countries over the past two decades -- a result mirrored in the fields, where farmworker wages have lost nearly half their real value since 1980 while the fast food companies that benefit from their labor -- like Taco Bell -- have undergone an expansion unprecedented in US food industry history.

And so Day 1 began, and the protest continued well into the night at the encampment, despite a cold rain that fell throughout the afternoon.

While elsewhere in LA and the rest of the country, the first of more than a hundred solidarity actions began. From Florida to Washington State, communities are recognizing the hunger strikers' courage and commitment and joining the cause to make fast food fair food.

Support for the hunger strike has generated a good deal of press. Be sure to check out the links below to see the latest media reports on the strike.

Checkout the great VIDEO from Day 1 by clicking here


On the Road: 1,600 Miles and Counting...The Hunger Strike Caravan keeps rolling toward Taco Bell headquarters!

Friday, February 21 - Immokalee workers and their allies covered a lot of ground yesterday -- from Chatanooga, TN, to Oklahoma City, OK, to be exact -- on their way to Taco Bell corporate headquarters and the unprecedented hunger strike, set to begin on Feb. 24th. But while the caravan made its way across this vast country, the 75 workers and allies riding the caravan covered a little ground of their own...

Report: Yesterday's story isn't best told with pictures, but we did manage to capture a sense of what has become a remarkable, rolling human rights school in a few video shorts that you've got to see!

With discussions ranging from modern-day slavery to the struggle for Indigenous rights, it was an inspiring day of shared experience and analysis that lifted all the caravaners high above our everyday lives and filled us with a powerful sense of the urgency of our fight. Click on the links below to see the:

Leaving Immokalee

On Thursday, Feb. 20, 75 workers and allies left Immokalee for Irvine, CA, crossing the country on the way to an unprecedented hunger strike outside Taco Bell headquarters.

The hunger strikers are stepping up the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' boycott campaign, demanding that the fast-food giant use its influence to fundamentally improve the sweatshop conditions in the fields where its tomatoes are grown and picked.

The hunger strike begins on February 24th -- 3 days and counting!...

Click here to see the video from Day 1

And check out the Palm Beach Post article on the hunger strikers' departure

On Sunday, hunger strikers met for a day-long internal organizing workshop -- the last of several over the past months -- building a common vision of the purpose of the coming action and finalizing plans for the trip.

Wednesday night was the final meeting before the 5:00 am departure the next morning, and the CIW office overflowed with strikers, materials for the trip, and press covering the pending departure.

The gravity of the action was clear in the faces of the strikers and the intense discussions that distinguished the evening from so many other weekly meetings.

And finally, the day arrived for strikers to load their bags and provisions for the trip...

grab a seat on the bus...

and head up I-75 for the first leg of the three-day voyage across the country. First stop - a pancake breakfast with the Knights of Columbus...

followed by the highlight of the day, a visit with our very dear friend, Bishop John Nevins of the Diocese of Venice, who once again opened up his heart and blessed our group, wishing us a safe and successful journey, and assuring us that justice will ultimately prevail.

With a personal message for each of us...

and a final surprise -- donning the hunger strike t-shirt right there on the spot!...

Bishop Nevins made it clear for all to see that his heart lies truly with those struggling for economic and social justice.

And with that powerful dose of solidarity, we boarded the bus and continued on our way, stopping in Atlanta for dinner later in the day with our friends from Food Not Bombs and staying the night in Chatanooga, Tennessee.

Tomorrow: Memphis, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City

Click here for the video from Day 1